Memorial Day Remembrance: Chocolate Rations and WWII

Memorial Day is right around the corner and that gets us at Sulpice Chocolat thinking a lot about veterans and how much they have done for us.  However, did you know chocolate was a major part of World War II? Yes, that sweet delectable treat is an oft-forgotten member in the most well-known event in recent world history.  It served our country on the front lines boosting troop moral and providing quick energy.  It was in the works as becoming a powerful weapon (seriously). 

Chocolate was first recruited by Army Quartermaster Colonel Paul Logan who approached Hershey’s Chocolate in April of 1937 and commissioned an emergency meal, high energy, 4 gram bar that could withstand high temperatures and tastes “a little better than a boiled potato.”  

Hershey developed a bar made of oat flour, cocoa fat, skim milk powder, and artificial flavoring.  The bars had a melting point of 120 degrees Fahrenheit and were packed in specially designed packaging that was gas proof.

The bars were called “Logan Bars” or “D Ration.”  While the bars tasted “a bit better than a boiled potato” they were universally despised by the army because of their bitter taste.  During World War II, troops nicknamed the bars “Hitler’s Secret Weapon” for the war the chocolate raged on the soldiers’ intestinal tracks.

The D Ration bars were generally discarded (on the ground) when issued, but chocolate would not be discharge that easily.   In 1943 Hershey was charged with the task of improving the taste of the bar while maintaining its temperature resistance and dietary sustenance.

The new bar was called the Tropical Bar.  The bar was designed to taste more like regular chocolate but was difficult to chew.  The bar became a type of currency traded with civilians and Allied troops not issued the bar, presumably under the assumption of “it says chocolate… it must be delicious.” 

bombs disguised as dark chocolate barsThe Tropical Bar, however, was successful with the Burma Theater of War, the name given to Allied forces operating in Burma, China, and India, because the bar was the only rations tolerable by soldiers who had contracted dysentery.  The Tropical Bar, however, did not retire after WWII.   It was recruited again to provide sustenance to soldiers in Vietnam and Korea a few decades later. 

Chocolate was not just tied to one side during the war.  German sabotage agents planned on using chocolate bar wrapping as a disguise for a small bomb.  Fortunately for chocolate’s good namesake, the plans were intercepted and never realized.

I realize this post has been fairly light-hearted and perhaps a bit amusing. 

However, I do not want to downplay the seriousness of war.  War is not just tough and bitter chocolate.  This Memorial Day, regardless of your political view on war and the military, take the time to remember and appreciate those who have fought and do fight in the armed services.  

 


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